Quark hedges comeback on app integration

Print to Web document publishing remains holy grail

By its own admission design software company Quark failed to listen to its customers who switched to competing offerings over the past decade, but a change of company direction to enterprise application integration will herald a new market opportunity, according to its CEO.

When Ray Schiavone was recruited to lead Quark in November 2006 to "transform the company", he brought with him experience in publishing and an idea to introduce more automation.

"The technology was historically positioned on the desktop and I had a vision for the multi-publishing challenge," Schiavone said. "I started to major transformation of Quark from focusing on desktop publishing to more of a broader, encompassing view focused on automating the entire publishing process."

To realize that vision, Quark needed to add enterprise server products to its portfolio and partner with other third-parties for complementary functions, like application integration.

"We want to solve the problem of print and online silos and no one of substantial size had made it their mission to solve that problem," Schiavone said.

Earlier this year Quark launched Dynamic Publishing Solutions product for enterprise publishing which integrates desktop publishing applications with multiple delivery channels like Web, print and mobile.

"We can turn Word into an XML authoring tool and it will co-exist with a number of content creation tools," Schiavone said. "We're also developing partnerships with enterprise content management providers for tight integration with content creation to content publishing. We want to get content to reusable XML. A component based process where people are designing content to where it will be eventually be published."

Quark is investing R&D in its Windows Server-based engine and "OEMing" some components and partnering with system integrators who can deploy solutions.

On cross-platform support - an area Quark has received criticism, particularly with regard to Mac OS X - Schiavone hasn't ruled out a port to Mac OS X Server or even Linux, which he says would be "intriguing" if there was enough market demand.

"I'm very interested in Mac OS X Server and I am eager to pursue that," he said.

"Is quark listening to the clients? I started by talking to our clients and looked at the challenges for publishers. The company got incredibly arrogant and had a 'build it and they will come' attitude. Now the entire management team is new which just a couple of senior managers surviving the changes."

Quark's new lease on life may be in the enterprise, but the company won't abandon its flagship QuarkXPress desktop publishing application and hopes innovation in publishing automation will have a halo effect.

"I want to be the high-end tool of choice and I'm very focused on the publishing process," Schiavone said. "I have a smaller target market and what we've done is allow graphic designers without programming tools to create a Web page or Flash with the same tools."

Locally, Quark says the customer exodus to Adobe's products has leveled off in recent years and a regional business director and technical consultant have been hired to push the dynamic publishing solution.

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